Recently on Dodgers Nation, we talked about how the famed tandem of Clayton Kershaw and A.J. Ellis could be broken up. Well, that’s not exactly fun to hear when you’re the catcher and could be losing out on some valuable innings and at-bats.
Catcher A.J. Ellis was able to give some of his thoughts on the matter going forward, and also about the mental aspect of dealing with the possibility of losing some of those innings and at-bats to the guy who is slated to be the full-time catcher. It was quite interesting.
“It’s not about my feelings, it’s about winning games and trying to move forward,” [catcher A.J.] Ellis said. “It doesn’t really matter what I want or what is best for me, it’s what the people in a decision-making role thinks is best for the Dodgers. That’s my job to continue to be professional and respect the situations. But at the same time, if I’m asked, I’m going to be catching Clayton. That’s what I want to do.”
This is what it sounds like when someone is, as he says, “professional.” Ellis knows that Grandal is likely going to be catching Kershaw more this season than he did last year, and that’s okay with Ellis because it’s about the team aspect rather than the individual aspect. However, as he notes, he still wants to catch Kershaw.
Since 2012, Ellis has been behind the plate for 102 of Kershaw’s starts. That number ranks second in baseball over that time period, with only Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants ranking above them with 109 games. It’s nothing against Grandal, but rather how much Ellis loves the talented lefty.
Kershaw and Ellis are friends, and friends are always there for each other. Ellis has been there with Kershaw for the last several years, and that trust is not easily obtained by those who are relatively new to the club. Still, for the team to be successful, the Dodgers might have to put results over friendship.
With Grandal being the better hitter and better receiver as a catcher, it looks likelier and likelier that he’s going to take over a lot more of the duties as far as catching Kershaw is concerned. This’ll be interesting to watch throughout the year, and it doesn’t mean that Ellis won’t get his time. It might just be less often.